The NSA Spies on People's Porn Habits

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 08:53 AM

The NSA whistleblower and former agent of CIA & NSA, Edward Snowden. (Laura Poitras/Praxis Films/Shutterstock)

Glenn Greenwald pops up in The Huffington Post today, with a new Snowden leak story. This one is about how the NSA has spied on the porn viewing habits of six unidentified Muslim targets

Why? The agency believes that they can use that information to discredit them.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

To explain why this story matters beyond its titillating absurdity, Greenwald refers to the Hoover-era FBI’s surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. The FBI surveilled MLK and similarly tried to use his personal life against him. Specifically, the FBI recorded audio of King allegedly cheating on his wife, and mailed cassettes of that audio to him with a letter suggesting that he kill himself. The full letter is here.

Obviously, King was a domestic political dissident and the NSA’s targets aren’t. That said, the NSA document doesn’t say that the targets were involved in planning terrorist attacks. Rather, it suggests that they’re influential as proselytizers.

...The NSA believes the targeted individuals radicalize people through the expression of controversial ideas via YouTube, Facebook and other social media websites. Their audience, both English and Arabic speakers, "includes individuals who do not yet hold extremist views but who are susceptible to the extremist message,” the document states. 

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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